Car production highest for month of May since 2004
LONDON (Reuters) - Foreign demand drove car production to the highest level for a month of May since 2004, in a rare boon for a government struggling to come up with measures to lift the weak economy.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Car Traders said on Thursday that car manufacturing totalled 141,146 units last month, with exports accounting for 120,120 of the total - up 45.5 percent on the year.
May's 42 percent annual rise in car output compared with low production in May 2011, when manufacturers' supply chains were disrupted by Japan's earthquake and tsunami, the industry body noted. Still, output in the year to date was up by 17 percent.
"This boost, coupled with robust year-to-date results, demonstrates the strength of UK automotive manufacturing and shows why it continues to attract high levels of international investment," said SMMT Chief Executive Paul Everitt.
The largely foreign-owned car industry has been one of the few bright spots in the British economy, with carmakers Jaguar Land Rover and Nissan announcing the creation of new jobs in the country this year.
Later on Thursday, attention will turn to an annual policy speech by Chancellor George Osborne who is unlikely to announce any new steps to engineer a recovery, but may foreshadow a move to use the government's balance sheet to leverage private-sector investment in infrastructure.
Bank of England Governor Mervyn King will also speak at the event, potentially giving a steer on the future path of monetary policy.
(Reporting by Olesya Dmitracova; editing by Stephen Nisbet)
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